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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Michael Bryan
Treasures of Oklahoma

Governor's Gallery - April 7 - June 1, 2014

Michael Bryan
Michael Bryan

A native of California now living in Bartlesville, Michael Bryan expresses his appreciation for the Oklahoma landscape in this exhibit of photographs titled Treasures of Oklahoma. Growing up in California, Bryan was taught the foundations of photography and dark room techniques by his father. He chose to study engineering and biology in college and joined the fast-paced workforce in southern California before moving to Bartlesville in 2007. In Oklahoma, Bryan found inspiration to slow down and observe the world around him through photography.

Untitled by Michael Bryan
Untitled by Michael Bryan
It was Bryan's education in the sciences that enabled him to see the incredible design of nature around him, and the foundation of photography shared by his father inspired him to reflect the beauty of what he saw. Upon moving to Oklahoma, Bryan began honing the craft of photography through workshops and photography groups. "As I have grown in my passion for photography, I have discovered a life-changing benefit that has enriched my life enormously," says the artist. "Photography has caused me to slow down and actually see the world around me. There is so much beauty to take in. Photographing flowers has caused me to notice the tiny flowers as I walk along a path. Photographing weather has caused me to study the shapes and colors of clouds in the sky. Photographing landscapes has caused me to see the way light illuminates the heads of wheat or leaves in a tree. Photographing buffalo on the plains has caused me to study the way that they move and care for their young. Now, I even notice the texture of decaying wood on old barns as I am photographing."

Untitled by Michael Bryan
Untitled by Michael Bryan

Beyond how he sees the landscape, Bryan has found that practicing photography in Oklahoma has required him to study the environment. If he desires to photograph a certain place, he often studies the weather forecasts days in advance or observes the place at different times of the day to find the right shot. "This requires time," he says, "but it also enriches life as it causes me to slow down and take the time to see."

Bryan's photography is also centered in technically capturing an image. This requires study and learning from the work of others as well as staying on top of the latest technology. Over the years, Bryan has gradually migrated to cameras that are more capable of capturing tiny detail, even in low-light conditions. Today, he most often uses a Nikon D800 camera, which is the highest resolution SLR (single-lens reflex) camera made today. However, he says, "The human eye is far superior to the finest camera in its ability to see a large range of light. For instance, the eye is capable of seeing detail in bright areas of a sunset while seeing details in shadow at the same time. The best camera cannot duplicate this with a single shot. In order to enhance my ability to capture realistic lighting of subjects, I sometimes use a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, where under- and over-exposed images are blended together to capture a larger range of light."

Untitled by Michael Bryan
Untitled by Michael Bryan

In addition, Bryan goes to extremes to capture images at just the right time, like staying awake until 2:00 a.m. for a meteor shower or braving sub-zero wind chill to capture sculpted, wind-carved snow on the prairie. Bryan hopes that the images he captures inspires others to see more beauty in the world.